An Essay on Crimes and Punishments

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J. Almon, opposite Burlington-House, Piccadilly, 1767 - Capital punishment - 179 pages
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Contents

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IV
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VII
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VIII
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XXXVIII
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XXXIX
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XLI
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Page 1 - In every human society, (says the celebrated Marquis Beccaria) there is an effort continually tending to confer on one part the height of power and happiness, and to reduce the other to the extreme of weakness and misery. The intent of good laws is to oppose this effort, and to diffuse their influence universally and equally.
Page 103 - Did any one ever give to others the right of taking away his life? Is it possible, that in the smallest portions of the liberty of each, sacrificed to the good of the public, can be contained the greatest of all good, life?
Page 25 - ... being weakened by time, which reduces all the phenomena of the natural and moral world to an equality, become, by degrees, the prudence of the age, and a useful instrument in the hands of the powerful or artful politician.
Page 32 - ... universal liberty of action common to all sensible beings, and only limited by our natural powers. By this principle our minds become free, active, and vigorous; by this alone we are inspired with that virtue which knows no fear, so different from that pliant prudence, worthy of those only who can bear a precarious existence.
Page 43 - Can the groans of a tortured wretch recall the time past, or reverse the crime he has committed? The end of punishment, therefore, is no other, than to prevent the criminal from doing further injury to society, and to prevent others from committing the like offence.
Page 24 - Whoever reads, with a philosophic eye, the history of nations, and their laws, will generally find that the ideas of virtue and vice, of a good or a bad citizen, change with the revolution of ages; not in proportion to the alteration of circumstances, and consequently conformable to the common good; but in proportion to the passions and errors by which the different lawgivers were successively influenced.
Page 27 - Being ought to be punished with infinitely more severity, than the assassination of a monarch. In short, others have imagined, that the greatness of the sin should aggravate the crime. But the fallacy of this opinion will appear on the slightest consideration of the relations between man and man, and between God and man.
Page 7 - Montesquieu, that every punishment which does not arise from absolute necessity is tyrannical; a proposition which may be made more general thus, every act of authority of one man over another for which there is not an absolute necessity is tyrannical.
Page 58 - If guilty, he should only suffer the punishment ordained by the laws, and torture becomes useless, as his confession is unnecessary, if he be not guilty, you torture the innocent; for, in the eye of the law, every man is innocent whose crime has not been proved.
Page 96 - An overgrown republic can only be saved from despotism, by subdividing it into a number of confederate republics. But how is this practicable? By a despotic dictator, who, with the courage of Sylla, has as much genius for building up, as that Roman had for pulling down. If he be an ambitious man, his reward will be immortal glory; if a philosopher, the blessings of his fellow-- citizens will sufficiently console him for the loss of authority, though he should not be insensible to their ingratitude.

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